Basic Points Unifying the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna

Basic Points Unifying the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna

The "Basic Points Unifying the Theravāda and the Mahāyāna " is an important Buddhist Ecumenical statement created in 1967 during the First Congress of the World Buddhist Sangha Council (WBSC), where its founder Secretary-General, the late Venerable Pandita Pimbure Sorata Thera, requested the Ven. Walpola Rahula to present a concise formula for the unification of all the different buddhist traditions. This text was then unanimously approved by the Council.

Text of the Original Document

cquote
# "The Buddha is our only Master (teacher and guide)"
# "We take refuge in the Buddha, the "Dharma" and the "IAST|Saṅgha" (the Three Jewels)"
# " We do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a God "
# "We consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness, and peace; and to develop wisdom ("prajñā") leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth"
# "We accept the Four Noble Truths, namely "IAST|duḥkha", the arising of "IAST|duḥkha", the cessation of "IAST|duḥkha", and the path leading to the cessation of "IAST|duḥkha"; and the law of cause and effect ("pratītyasamutpāda")"
# "All conditioned things ("IAST|saṃskāra") are impermanent ("anitya") and "IAST|duḥkha", and that all conditioned and unconditioned things ("dharma") are without self ("anātma") ("see" "trilaksana")."
# "We accept the thirty-seven qualities conducive to enlightenment ("IAST|bodhipakṣadharma") as different aspects of the Path taught by the Buddha leading to Enlightenment."
# "There are three ways of attaining "bodhi" or Enlightenment: namely as a disciple ("śrāvaka"), as a "pratyekabuddha" and as a "samyaksambuddha" (perfectly and fully enlightened Buddha). We accept it as the highest, noblest, and most heroic to follow the career of a "Bodhisattva" and to become a "samyaksambuddha" in order to save others."
# "We admit that in different countries there are differences regarding Buddhist beliefs and practices. These external forms and expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the Buddha."

Expansion of the Formula

Ven. Walpola Sri Rahula in 1981 offered an alternative to the Nine-point formula above restating it as follows:

cquote
* "Whatever our sects, denominations or systems, as Buddhists we all accept the Buddha as our Master who gave us the Teaching."
* "We all take refuge in the Triple Jewel: the Buddha, our Teacher; the "Dhamma", his teaching; and the "Sangha", the Community of holy ones. In other words, we take refuge in the Teacher, the Teaching and the Taught."
* "Whether Theravāda or Mahāyāna, we do not believe that this world is created and ruled by a god at his will."
* "Following the example of the Buddha, our Teacher, who is embodiment of Great Compassion ("mahāIAST|karuṇa") and Great Wisdom ("mahāprajñā"), we consider that the purpose of life is to develop compassion for all living beings without discrimination and to work for their good, happiness and peace; and to develop wisdom leading to the realization of Ultimate Truth."
* "We accept the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha, namely, "Dukkha", the fact that our existence in this world is in predicament, is impermanent, imperfect, unsatisfactory, full of conflict; "Samudaya", the fact that this state of affairs is due to our egoistic selfishness based on the false idea of self; "Nirodha", the fact that there is definitely the possibility of deliverance, liberation, freedom from this predicament by the total eradication of the egoistic selfishness; and "Magga", the fact that this liberation can be achieved through the Middle Path which is eight-fold, leading to the perfection of ethical conduct ("sila"), mental discipline ("samadhi") and wisdom ("panna")."
* "We accept the universal law of cause and effect taught in the "IAST|Paṭiccasamuppada" (Skt. "pratītyasamutpada"; Conditioned Genesis or Dependent Origination), and accordingly we accept that everything is relative, interdependent and interrelated and nothing is absolute, permanent and everlasting in this universe."
* "We understand, according to the teaching of the Buddha, that all conditioned things ("samkhara") are impermanent ("anicca") and imperfect and unsatisfactory ("dukkha"), and all conditioned and unconditioned things ("dhamma") are without self ("anatta")."
* "We accept the Thirty-seven Qualities conducive to Enlightenment ("bodhipakkhiyadhamma") as different aspects of the Path taught by the Buddha leading to Enlightenment, namely:"
** "Four Forms of Presence of Mindfulness (Pali: "satipatthana"; Skt. "smrtyupasthana");"
** "Four Right Efforts (Pali. "sammappadhana"; Skt. "samyakpradhana");"
** "Four Bases of Supernatural Powers (Pali. "iddhipada"; Skt. "rddhipada");"
** "Five Faculties ("indriya": Pali. "saddha, viriya, sati, samadhi, panna"; Skt. "sraddha, virya, smrti, samadhi, prajna");"
** "Five Powers ("bala", same five qualities as above);"
** "Seven Factors of Enlightenment (Pali. "bojjhanga"; Skt. "bobhyanga");"
** "Eight-fold Noble Path (Pali. "ariyamagga"; Skt. "aryamarga")."
* "There are three ways of attaining "Bodhi" or Enlightenment according to the ability and capacity of each individual: namely, as a "Sravaka" (disciple), as a "Pratyekabuddha" (Individual Buddha) and as a "Samyaksambuddha" (Perfectly and Fully Enlightened Buddha). We accept it as the highest, noblest and most heroic to follow the career of a "Boddhisattva" and to become a "Samyksambuddha" in order to save others. But these three states are on the same Path, not on different paths. In fact, the "Sandhinirmocana-sutra", a well-known important Mahayana sutra, clearly and emphatically says that those who follow the line of "Sravaka-yana" (Vehicle of Disciples) or the line of "Pratyekabuddha-yana" (Vehicle of Individual Buddhas) or the line of "Tathagatas" (Mahayana) attain the supreme Nirvana by the same Path, and that for all of them there is only one Path of Purification ("visuddhi-marga") and only one Purification ("visuddhi") and no second one, and that they are not different paths and different purifications, and that "Sravakayana" and "Mahayana" constitute One Vehicle One Yana ("ekayana") and not distinct and different vehicles or yanas."
* "We admit that in different countries there are differences with regard to the ways of life of Buddhist monks, popular Buddhist beliefs and practices, rites and rituals, ceremonies, customs and habits. These external forms and expressions should not be confused with the essential teachings of the Buddha."

Other compilations of commonalities

Other lists similar to Walpola Rahula's have been produced by others.
Tan Swe Eng compiled the following:

cquote
"Common Ground Between Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism"

# "Śākyamuni Buddha is the original and historical founder of Buddhism."
# "The Three Universal Seals, Four Noble Truths, Eight Fold Paths and Twelve Links of Dependent Origination are the basic foundation to all schools of Buddhism including the Tibetan schools of Vajrayana."
# "Threefold training of Precepts, Meditation and Wisdom is universal to all schools."
# "Organization of the Buddhist teachings / Dharma into three classifications (Sutra, Vinaya and Sastra) is practised among the Buddhist Canons of various countries."
# "Mind over matter concept. Mind as the principal area of taming and control is fundamental to all schools."
"

For Oo Maung the similarities between the Theravada and Mahayana are found in:

cquote
*"the Four Noble Truths"
*"the Noble Eightfold Path"
*"the Paticca-samuppada (Dependent Origination)"
*"Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta (Three marks of existence)"
*"Sila, Samadhi, Panna (Threefold training)"
*"the rejection of the concept of a Supreme God."
"

References

* Rahula, Walpola (1974). "The Heritage of the Bhikkhu". NY: Grove Press; pp. 100, 137-8.
* The Young Buddhist, Singapore : Buddha Yana Organization, 1982, p.161 -163

See also

* World Fellowship of Buddhists
* World Buddhist Forum
* Buddhism

External links

* [http://wbsc886.org/ World Buddhist Sangha Council homepage]
* [http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/history/comparative.htm Comparative Study by Tan Swe Eng]
* [http://www.triplegem.plus.com/thramaha.htm Theravada vs Mahayana (Compiled by Oo Maung)]
* [http://july.fixedreference.org/en/20040724/wikipedia/Hinayana Original 2004 Wikipedia article on Buddhism]


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